How to Make Your Own Bacon at Home Like the Pros
Bacon. It seems to make just about everything better, doesn’t it? That’s why it’s no surprise that here in Portland we’re about as obsessed with bacon as a city can be, with Voodoo Doughnut’s famous Bacon Maple Bar and even an annual bacon festival.
Of all the delicious bacon you’ll find in PDX, there’s a good chance that you won’t find any better than at Old Salt Marketplace, a farm-to-table deli, meat shop, supperhouse, bar, event space, and classroom where you can learn the tricks of the trade from some of the most talented butchers and chefs in Oregon. Old Salt is led by head chef Ben Meyer, who has taken us behind the scenes to show us how simple, flavorful, and rewarding it can be to prepare your own bacon at home, from scratch.
Note: You will need an outdoor smoker for this recipe.
- Half slab of pork belly (3-4 pounds)
- 8 cups brown sugar
- 1.5 cups kosher salt
- 1 tsp. each smoked paprika, chili flakes, and Hungarian paprika
2. Mix the Seasonings
Mix salt and sugar until evenly distributed. In a separate bowl, combine the paprika, chili flakes, and smoked paprika.
3. Add Spice Mixture to Pork Belly
Dust the belly with the paprika and chili mixture, trying for even coverage on all sides.
4. Add Sugar and Salt Mixture to Pork Belly
Rub belly on all sides with sugar and salt mixture. Spread an even layer of sugar mix on bottom of a cooking tray or sheet pan, large enough to hold belly flat. Lay belly in, fat side down. Cover belly with remaining sugar/salt mixture, cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and allow to sit in the refrigerator for a week.
5. Keep an Eye on It
Check in on cure over the week. The sugar mix should dissolve and the belly should be covered in a thick, syrup-like sugar sludge.
6. Prepare for Smoking
After a week, remove pork belly and rinse gently under warm water, to remove any excess melted salt and sugar, but be careful not to rinse off too much of the spices. Either hang the slab from a bacon hanger (if you have one) or on a grate over a sheet pan to allow drainage, and leave in your refrigerator for at least a day to dry.
7. Smoke the Belly
After leaving the pork belly to dry for at least 24 hours, smoke the belly at 170 degrees for about 5 hours, with apple wood. Allow to cool fully before slicing.
After smoking, bacon will be fully cooked, but it’s a lot better when fried!
Learn more about Old Salt Marketplace and their public cooking and butchery classes on their website.